Closeness Counts in Horseshoes and Dancing . . . And Elections

12 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2008

See all articles by Fred Thompson

Fred Thompson

Willamette University - Atkinson Graduate School of Management

Abstract

This article surveys the empirical literature on voter turnout in an attempt to determine whether the claim that individual behavior in public-regarding decisions conforms to the mini-max-regret rule (precautionary principle) is valid, and also to determine whether or not what we know about voting/not voting behavior provides any useful information for the design of regulatory policies and practices. The article concludes that voters do not practice mini-max-regret. That they maximize risk-adjusted expected value seems nearly as unlikely, unless it is assumed that votes are intended to influence the behavior of whoever is elected. On balance, Kahneman and Tversky's prospect theory appears to be the best guide to understanding voting behavior. It is also directly relevant to the design of regulatory arrangements.

Keywords: voluntary participation, voting, not-voting, minimax regret, uncertainty, risk aversion, prospect theory

JEL Classification: D71, D72, D81, I18

Suggested Citation

Thompson, Fred, Closeness Counts in Horseshoes and Dancing . . . And Elections. Public Choice, Vol. 38, No. 3, 1982. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1123747

Fred Thompson (Contact Author)

Willamette University - Atkinson Graduate School of Management ( email )

900 State Street
Salem, OR 97301
United States
503-370-6228 (Phone)
503-370-3011 (Fax)

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